CATBird Flights at Edwards

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 cooperative avionics test bed aircraft, or CATBird, for short, last month spent more than one week at Edwards AFB, Calif., where it demonstrated the avionics systems being developed for the F-35 stealth fighter. In a release Monday, the company said the test bed’s flight activities at Edwards included successful airborne testing of the F-35’s advanced electronically scanned array radar as well as the fighter’s electronic warfare suite and communications/navigation/identification system, and more than 2.8 million lines of mission systems flight software. The CATBird left Lockheed’s facility in Fort Worth, Tex., on April 14 and returned on April 24. The test bed platform is a highly modified 737 airliner equipped with avionics and sensors that will go on the actual F-35. Testing this equipment on CATBird and other surrogate aircraft prior to integration on the F-35 reduces risk to the program. Doug Pearson, Lockheed’s vice president of the F-35 integrated test force said the performance of the on-board sensors during the Edwards deployment “exceeded” his expectations, thereby providing “added confidence” that the F-35 program is on track to fly the first mission systems-equipped F-35 test aircraft this summer.